Pregnant women still opt for traditional birth attendants, report shows
Expectant women still use traditional birth attendants and medicine despite the launch of free maternity services programme six years years ago, a new report shows.
A survey released by two University of Nairobi scholars; principal investigator Owuor Olungah and Dr Rhoune Ochako revealed a number of challenges that have inhibited the programme.
The study conducted in three counties: Nairobi, Kilifi and Migori aimed at gathering information concerning free maternity services in each county.
In the study published by the Open Society Initiative of East Africa (OSIEA), the two researchers found out that women were still being attended to by Traditional Birth Attendants, whose role is not properly recognised in the formal health care system; while others use traditional medicine and prefer home deliveries which make them feel ashamed to reveal the un favourable birth outcomes.
“Insufficient information at the community level to influence demand for quality services, low public participation in the policy development and structures that guide maternal health care and impact of culture in maternal health making pregnancy a private affair remain a huge challenge,” Olungah said.
Speaking during the launch, Olungah said there was lack of involvement of stakeholders due to the top-down nature of the policies in Kenya.
“Free maternity declaration was just a political decision that was made at the apex of political campaigns and all public health facilities were expected to provide services regardless of their capability in terms of personnel and resources,” he added.
He said the declaration has been seen by the implementers as focusing mainly on reduction of financial barriers without considering other important impediments like distance to health facilities, staff attitude and motivation as well as the availability of adequate equipment.